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How to Strip a Wire

Myriad Ways That Show How to Strip a Wire Effortlessly

Although electrical wires are covered in a protective material, we often need to strip them. This article talks about the different ways in which the protective insulation of a wire can be removed.
Debopriya Bose
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Wires are made of metals due to their ability to conduct electricity. This property of metals is attributed to the availability of free electrons in the outermost shell, that conduct electricity, as they move across a potential gradient. Some of these wires carry very high voltage electricity. To prevent life forms being electrocuted, in case they came in contact with these, they are often enclosed within an insulating cover. However, while working on a project, one often needs to remove this protective cover. There are a number of special tools, like a wire stripper, to do this. However, a simple knife or a pair of scissors can also do the trick.
How do You Strip Wires
Using a Wire Stripper
  • Measure 1 to 1.5 inches from one or both sides and mark it with a marker. Although it is not imperative to carry out this step, putting a mark allows better precision, while scoring on the insulation.
  • Now, using the wire stripper, score a line all along the diameter, along the mark. Be careful that the scoring slices through just the insulating cover, and does not nick the wires.
  • Now insert the wire into the matching slot of the wire stripper or adjust its screw according to the diameter.
  • Hold the wires in one hand with the thumb extended towards the end. Now, with the other hand, hold the stripper over the score which was marked on the protective cover earlier. Keep the wire stripper at an angle and press the handles.
  • Move it back and forth till the insulating cover is severed.
  • Now pull off the detached cover.
Without Using a Wire Stripper
Sometimes we might not have the device at hand. In such a scenario, a wire could still be stripped of its insulation using a utility knife or a pair of scissors in the following way:
  • Measure the length that is required and cut it using the utility knife. A pair of scissors could also be used in case a utility knife does not work.
  • Then put a mark about 1 to 1.5 inch on either side.
  • Now, start scoring along the mark. The key to executing this process is to be able to find the right amount of pressure that needs to be applied, so that the underlying wires are not damaged. This can be easily done by placing the wire on a hard surface and applying a constant pressure on the insulation. As the pressure is being applied turn it around so that a score is neatly marked along the entire diameter of the protective covering.
  • Once the insulation has been nicked properly, take the severed part off with your fingers.
Things to Avoid
Do Not Damage the Wires
Either while scoring, or while cutting the insulation, take care that only the protective covering is severed. Take care that the wire is not nicked in any case. A damaged piece will easily break when it is bent to make a connection. In case it does get damaged while stripping, start with a new length, all over again.
Burning the Wire
Many people burn the wire so that the insulating cover melts and can be easily removed. This practice should be avoided as it is harmful for the individual burning it, as well as for the environment.
Some people hammer the wire to remove the protective cover. Though it is not harmful either to the user or the environment, it consumes a lot of energy and time.
A wire can be stripped using a box cutter or a stripping machine also. However, stripping machines are expensive and it makes sense to use them only when a large amount of wires need to be stripped.
Candle in brass holder isolated
Wire cutter